Energy Minister Mangoma arrested
HARARE – Honorable Minister of Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma was arrested on Thursday on trumped up corruption charges relating to allegations of a botched US$5 million fuel deal.
Mangoma, a top aide of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was reportedly picked up by police from the Serious Fraud squad early Thursday morning and is being detained at an undisclosed location.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could neither deny nor confirm the arrest.
“I still have no information on that issue, check with me later,” said Bvudzijena.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa however confirmed the arrest.
“I have just been informed that Minister Mangoma has been arrested and I am still checking the facts around his arrest,” said Chamisa.
Police sources however, told the Daily News that Mangoma was arrested for the fuel deal early this year in which he allegedly awarded a contract to supply five million litres of fuel to a little known South African company, Nooa Petroleum which failed to deliver the product on time.
“Mangoma is being questioned on his role in the purchasing of the fuel from Nooa as police believe that he has a case to answer. Police want to understand his link to Nooa and how he could have benefitted,” said a police source.
Ironically some Zanu PF strategists told the Daily News on Wednesday that Mangoma was going to be arrested within “24 hours.” They also said that after Mangoma, more MDC ministers would be arrested for a number of “corruption cases.”
“The election strategy for us towards elections is to make sure that as many MDC ministers as possible are arrested and tarnished. We don’t care whether they will eventually be convicted or not. This might catch up with some very top MDC officials,” said the Zanu PF strategist.
Nooa Petroleum was paid US$ 4.4 million from the US$6 million received from Treasury. The other US$ $1.6million was spent on ZIMRA taxes and levies for the five million litres of fuel which Mangoma intended to have delivered in the country to avert a looming shortage.
At the time, there was no fuel in the region and Mangoma justified his choice for Nooa saying they were the only ones with fuel in the region and he wanted to avoid a critical shortage in the country.
Mangoma also defended himself saying the deal was above aboard and there was no need to raise panic buttons although his permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga had earlier told a Parliamentary committee on energy and power that “we were hoodwinked”.
“He (Mupamhanga) didn’t tell me that. He is doing a double speak. I don’t see where the loss is and don’t know why the panic buttons are there,” said Mangoma.
Before he was arrested, Mangoma was accused of allowing PetrolTrade to procure the fuel ahead of local reputable companies without going to tender.
PetrolTrade is a newly created government company to focus on the procurement of fuel.
“The fact that they( Nooa ) are not known here does not make them a fly-by-night company. Those who say they are dubious could be other players because they fear new entrants,” Mangoma told the Daily News recently.